Those "Quiet Starts"
Posted August 12, 2009
Updated August 17, 2009
A number of folks have asked us by e-mail or in other forums about the slow start to hurricane season and how it stacks up historically that we haven't had a named storm so far this year in the Atlantic Basin. That still holds true as I write this on August 12th, although there is a tropical depression active at the moment, and there is another wave exiting West Africa that some computer models intensify later this week and next.
Over the last couple of decades, 1992 was the year that we went farthest into the season without a named storm, and in fact that entire season ended up producing only six. However, the first one that year, named on August 16th, turned out to be "Andrew," a category 5 storm that slammed southern Florida and later parts of the Gulf Coast.
If we go back much farther, though, we find that in 1914 the first storm that reached tropical storm intensity, and thus would have been named under the current system, did not occur until September 15th. It moved across the deep south (attached image from the Unisys hurricane archive) and dissipated on the 19th of that year. It also turned out to be the only tropical storm of the season, one that featured not a single Atlantic hurricane.
Of course, it's worth noting as well that some other seasons that failed to produce a named storm before late July or early August went on to spin up in a hurry and produce a near normal (10) number of named systems. It will be interesting to see how this year fits into the history...